Think no small business owner in his or her right mind would ever make it difficult for people to purchase their products and services?
You would be surprised.
True Story: Judy’s Boutique Adventure
Not too long ago, I was running errands and, having a little extra time, decided to check out a clothing boutique that I had always been curious about.
This was a very nice shop that carried, mostly, high-priced lines. Not what I usually buy but what I might splurge on every once in while. My mind-set was “I could be persuaded if it looks great on me.”
There wasn’t anyone else in the store. I was the only customer. For that reason alone, you would think the sales women would be delighted to help me. But when the little bell on the door chimed, they glanced my way exactly once and then went back to whatever it was they were chatting about.
Now if the owner was there, things might have been different. Still, I thought it was really odd that here is someone in an otherwise empty store who might buy something, maybe enough to make their monthly commission, and yet they did nothing at all.
So I ended up looking at the nice things they had and left without spending a penny.
You would never do what those saleswomen did would you?
Are You Making it Hard for People to do Business with You
Maybe not intentionally, but I see it happen all the time: weblinks that go nowhere, offers without information about what to do next, brochures that are jam-packed with lots of irrelevant verbiage, and so on. If these small businesses are making money, it’s in spite of the marketing they’re doing, surely not because of the marketing I’m seeing.
I want to encourage you to make the buying process for your customers and prospects a “no-brainer.” In fact, you want to make the buying process so easy and pleasurable, that your customers’ only focus is on using your products and services and enjoying the benefits.
So how do you make the buying process easy and enjoyable for your customers and prospects?
Creating an Experience that Makes Buying Easy and Enjoyable
Whether or not you’re conscious of it, when customers buy from you, they have a perceived experience. You and your customers may interact in a real store or office or you may be interacting in cyberspace. It doesn’t matter. The sights, sounds, speed of interaction, ease of getting what they want, etc all leave an impression–positive or negative.
Why not do what you can to make the experience as positive and rewarding as possible?
It can be something very simple. For example, when I entered the store, one of the salespersons could have looked at me, smiled, and said “Hi, how are you today?” That simple greeting, her acknowledgment, would have greatly improved my experience. And as I was browsing, if someone had come up and said, “Is there anything in particular I can help you with?” that would have added points as well.
Notice this doesn’t require them to be at my every beck and call. These are small actions that would have acknowledged my presence and would have eased the way towards a purchase. I’m suggesting small, low-cost or no-cost activities that have a potentially large payout.
In the cyber world, you can’t literally smile at someone and offer to help. But there are still lots of small things you can do to improve your customer’s experience and improve their likelihood of buying something, of coming back to buy more, and to send their friends and colleagues to your site.
For example, when it comes to retail websites, Amazon.com remains one of my favorites. Especially for browsing and buying books and media.
If I’m looking for something specific, I usually find what I want quickly and I love the one-click purchasing option. In addition to the making the mechanics of searching for and purchasing easy, Amazon offers opportunities for social interaction including customer reviews, Listmania, So you’d like to … guides, discussion boards, and more. When it comes to social interaction, Amazon.com is not Facebook nor is it trying to be but as someone who does a lot of research and reading, Amazon.com remains very high on my list in terms of usability, usefulness, and experience.
A Simple But Powerful Question That Will Expose the Problem
If you’re wondering whether you’re unintentionally setting up barriers to buying, here’s a simple way to find out.
Ask your current customers.
Ask them this question in this way: “…on a scale of 1 through 10 with 1 being worst and 10 being best, how easy was it for you to find what you were looking for?”
The beauty of asking the question this way is that you’ll get actionable information. If they give you anything less than a 10, your next question is, “what would need to change to make the experience a 10?”
When asking what you need to improve, you may want to go through the process step-by-step with your customer to really pinpoint where the problems occur.
Thank your customer for their help if appropriate by giving them a small but meaningful gift. A discount on their next purchase, a free book or tape, etc.
If you make the change, tell them and thank them so they know what they said made a real difference.
If people are showing interest in your products and services but aren’t buying, you may be unintentionally making the buying process confusing, difficult, or just plain unpleasant.
Don’t leave money on the table. A few small actions may be all it takes to significantly improve your customers’ buying experience and your bottom line.